Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mr. Sibal…Are you reading this?

Just as ‘ Facebook protests’ give rise to democratic protests in Russia against rigging of elections by Mr Putin, the Indian Government seeks to curtail the reach and the voice of individual protest in the world’s largest democracy.
So what’s the Government (not only in India) afraid of? It’s afraid of the unknown. Social Network is a game changer in the playing out of democracy, and the Government (and Governments all over the world) are caught unawares. All political parties, their elected representatives, whether they sit in opposition or in Government have spent their political lives based on a set of parameters they have come see as sacrosanct. Moral or immoral, those parameters are the only ones they understand. The world has changed beneath their feet.
Yes there are video’s posted, or content posted on the Internet that are immoral and against the law. That encourage racial conflict.  But I believe the platforming companies are pretty good about removing such content.  All you have to do is report, and if there are enough complaints then that content will be taken off. You only have to look at how quickly the Internet companies and Governments all over respond to child pornography on the net (least in India actually).  But hey ! if there is something against a politician (say a video) and that gets 10 million odd hits in a week, and thousands of comments, does that not say something about how the community feels ?  To try and stop that is completely undemocratic, is it not ?
One last thing.  Censorship on the Internet is only possible if you shut the Internet down.  Google, Facebook and Twitter are only vulnerable because of their size and desire for valuation. Take them down and thousands of alternate sites for platforming content will sprout up.  Take them down and ten thousand will sprout up.  People have found the power to express themselves and will not give it up easily.  The growing community of hackers, some still in their teens, have shown that no Government or Corporation in the world is able to ‘ban’ them.
The Internet and freedom of expression are here to stay.

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